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County pays $1 million for land to close gap in Foothills Trail

Friday, November 22, 2013 at 5:44 PM The News Tribune, Tacoma, WA

Pierce County has purchased a crucial, missing link for connecting the popular Foothills Trail from South Prairie to Buckley The price tag: $1.05 million. That’s what the county is paying for a strip of land through Dwight Partin’s RV park in South Prairie. The purchase represents a major step toward completing the walking and biking trail whose main 20-mile corridor stretches from a trail head just east of Puyallup to Buckley. It runs atop an abandoned railroad bed. Partin and the county agreed on a price in April for the 1.36 acres, but negotiations continued over details of the agreement, said Matt Hansen, Partin’s attorney. The sale of the 59,000-square-foot area was made final Thursday. The county’s negotiations with Partin date back to at least 2006. “People want to know it’s finished and we can move on,” Partin said.

Buzz Grant, president of the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition, was ecstatic over the acquisition. “After all this time, it’s finally done,” Grant said. “I’m absolutely flabbergasted and very, very happy. “The paved Foothills Trail covers 15 miles from Puyallup to South Prairie. The 12-foot-wide trail also includes a two-mile stretch in Buckley, and short segments east of South Prairie and in Wilkeson. When complete, the trail will cover more than 28 miles. Some visionaries have dreamed even bigger, their hopes set on a recreation trail network connecting Mount Rainier National Park to Tacoma and on to Gig Harbor over the Narrows Bridge. The county said Friday it will continue efforts to buy property to fill in the remaining gaps in the Puyallup-to-Buckley segment. Those gaps make up less than 3 miles of trail in two sections .The county also will seek grants to begin work extending the trail through the newly acquired property. No estimate was given on when the section will be ready for use.

County Executive Pat McCarthy called the purchase “an exciting development.” “This is an important milestone as we strive to complete the vision for an uninterrupted trail connecting Puyallup, Orting, South Prairie and Buckley with points beyond,” McCarthy said in a statement. In June, the County Council approved a supplemental budget from McCarthy that included funds to purchase the property. Of that, $130,000 is from the paths and trails fund. Another $300,000 is a loan from the county’s equipment rental and revolving fund.

That $430,000, combined with money already in the parks and recreation budget, will pay for the Partin property. Relationships between the county and Partin have been contentious at times. In 2010, the County Council authorized condemnation proceedings. Negotiations carried on under that cloud. In April, Partin said he was ready to sell. The county bought a 40-foot-wide strip of land through Partin’s 40 acres that include his RV park. Partin said in April that 59 of the 105 RV sites in his South Prairie Creek RV Park will have to be relocated elsewhere on his property. Partin will not be able to locate RVs south of the trail. The purchase price takes into account this and other impacts on Partin’s property.
Partin and the county have disagreed in the past over where on his property the trail will go. Hansen said it will run through former railroad right-of-way in the southern section of Partin’s property. In an email Wednesday, Partin credited County Council member Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake, and council staff member Mike Kruger “for stepping in and helping break the ice for this agreement and getting the parties working together. “Partin also said the prosecutor’s office and the county’s parks and recreation department “have all been very respectful towards the needs of my business and my tenants needs.

Buckley to Orting Half Marathon

Buckley to Orting Half Marathon

The first of what is expected to be many Buckley to Orting (B&O) Half Marathons has come and gone. On Saturday, July 27th, 2013, a total of 110 people made their way through the 13.1 mile, scenic course. Here is a list of the top finishers by category for the event.

  • Female – 17 years of age and under
    Samantha Patterson from Puyallup in 1 hour 38 minutes
  • Female – 18 to 39 years of age
    Brittany Hodgson from Tacoma in 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Female Masters
    Lanette Blume from Tacoma in 1 hour 44 minutes
  • Female Super Masters
    Phyllis Welker from Tacoma in 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Male – 18 to 39 years of age
    Mike Stone from Graham in 1 hour 19 minutes
  • Male Masters
    Doug Stucki from Auburn in 1 hour 37 minutes
  • Male Super Masters
    John Selby from Tacoma in 2 hours 5 minutes
© Bob Rowan/Progressive Image 2013

© Bob Rowan/Progressive Image 2013

We received lots of kudos from the runners, who thought the course was wonderful, the race was well run, and were going to tell friends and fellow running club members about the race.

We also had a mother with a stroller do the entire 13.1 miles, with her small son running a good portion of the run as well!

Next year’s race will be better than ever, the bugs should be worked out with the volunteers, and the Pierce County 4X4 Search and Rescue is ready, willing, and able to assist again!
The Coalition has renewed my contract to direct next year’s races, and I am excited to begin the process once again toward making the Rainer to Ruston Rail-Trail Relay and Ultra (R2R) and the B&O Half Marathon better than they have ever been.

I want to thank all of the great volunteers we had for the B&O, because without them, the race would not have been as great as it was. We had over 100 participants, and if we do it right, we will have over 300 next year. In the next few months, the race committee will be getting together and will need Coalition members to step forward and take control of certain committees to make the races as great as they can be.

R2R Holds Special Meaning

R2R Holds Special Meaning

Gina Chupka started the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, but never got the chance to complete her goal of running a marathon in all 50 states. Terrorism got in the way. But Chupka, a chemist from Golden, Colorado, pounded 50 miles of trail, pavement and mud in the 2013 Rainier-to-Ruston Ultra and Relay (R2R) on June 1st to accomplish another feat: Her first ultra. Boston will have to wait another year, but Chupka’s run was a top highlight of the 11th Annual R2R on June 1st, National Trails Day. This year’s event attracted 994 entrants and a record 93 ultra runners. There were no cheering crowds when Chupka crossed the finish line on Tacoma’s Ruston Way. In fact, her day’s journey from the foothills of Mount Rainier to Commencement Bay took nearly 12 hours. She struggled across the finish line only eight minutes before the race was to officially shut down at 7 p.m. When race director Richard Pasquier put the finisher’s medal around her neck and handed her the ceremonial railroad spike, she broke into tears and embraced Pasquier with a crushing hug. As she regained her breath, she told Pasquier her husband and parents had been waiting for her in a Boston restaurant when one of the explosions showered them with glass. “It was quite an accomplishment for her, and quite the emotional experience,” Pasquier recalled later. Chupka, whose age is “over 35,” now has done 53 marathons in 49 states. Last year she ran 24 marathons in 24 states. Pasquier, directing his first R2R, told another story that captures the essence of the R2R. Driving home long after the end of the race, volunteer John Downs spotted two women runners slowly making their way toward Ruston Way. He alerted Pasquier, who had already stopped in his car to give two other late finishers their medals and spikes. The two women were the Bondar sisters, Linda and Janice, 59 and 62 years old. They were stunned and immensely grateful to find Pasquier waiting with medals and spikes when they reached the finish at 8:52 p.m. By all accounts, the 2013 R2R was a great success. The weather was excellent, there were no reports of serious injury, and the addition of a beer garden at the finish line was hugely popular. Every ultra runner was treated to a free beer. A team from Sumner won the first ‘Mayor’s Cup’ in a relay competition among cities on the route. Allen Hughes won the ‘Founder’s Award’ for organizing effective radio communications along the race route. The worst glitch was a computer problem that prevented accurate time results. Pasquier vowed he would make sure that this won’t happen next year. The results were posted two days later on the R2R website. Pasquier praised the work of more than 125 volunteers. “They really pulled through to make it all happen,” he said. Pasquier is already at work planning the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition’s second half-marathon from Buckley to Orting to be held on July 27, 2013.

Those wishing to participate in the half-marathon may do so by visiting the following Website to sign up: http://www.rainiertoruston.com/FoothillsBOHalf.html